April 3 - Matthew 26.1-25, Numbers 35-36 and Job 3

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The Plot To Kill Jesus
(Mark 14.1, 2; Luke 22.1, 2; John 11.45-53)

Matthew 26 When Jesus had finished teaching, he told his disciples, 2"You know that two days from now will be Passover. That is when the Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies and nailed to a cross."
3At that time the chief priests and the nation's leaders were meeting at the home of Caiaphas the high priest. 4They planned how they could sneak around and have Jesus arrested and put to death. 5But they said, "We must not do it during Passover, because the people will riot."

At Bethany
(Mark 14.3-9; John 12.1-8)

6Jesus was in the town of Bethany, eating at the home of Simon, who had leprosy. 7A woman came in with a bottle of expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus' head. 8But when his disciples saw this, they became angry and complained, "Why such a waste? 9We could have sold this perfume for a lot of money and given it to the poor."
10Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said:
Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me. 11You will always have the poor with you, but you won't always have me. 12She has poured perfume on my body to prepare it for burial. 13You may be sure that wherever the good news is told all over the world, people will remember what she has done. And they will tell others.

Judas and the Chief Priests
(Mark 14.10, 11; Luke 22.3-6)

14Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples. He went to the chief priests 15and asked, "How much will you give me if I help you arrest Jesus?" They paid Judas thirty silver coins, 16and from then on he started looking for a good chance to betray Jesus.

Jesus Eats the Passover Meal with His Disciples
(Mark 14.12-21; Luke 22.7-13; John 13.21-30)

17On the first day of the Festival of Thin Bread, Jesus' disciples came to him and asked, "Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal?"
18Jesus told them to go to a certain man in the city and tell him, "Our teacher says, 'My time has come! I want to eat the Passover meal with my disciples in your home.' " 19They did as Jesus told them and prepared the meal.
20-21When Jesus was eating with his twelve disciples that evening, he said, "One of you will surely hand me over to my enemies."
22The disciples were very sad, and each one said to Jesus, "Lord, you can't mean me!"
23He answered, "One of you men who has eaten with me from this dish will betray me. 24The Son of Man will die, as the Scriptures say. But it's going to be terrible for the one who betrays me! That man would be better off if he had never been born."
25Judas said, "Teacher, you surely don't mean me!"
"That's what you say!" Jesus replied. But later, Judas did betray him.

The Towns for the Levites

Numbers 35 While the people of Israel were still camped in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho, the LORD told Moses 2to say to them:
When you receive your tribal lands, you must give towns and pastures to the Levi tribe. 3That way, the Levites will have towns to live in and pastures for their animals. 4-5The pasture around each of these towns must be in the shape of a square, with the town itself in the center. The pasture is to measure three thousand feet on each side, with fifteen hundred feet of land outside each of the town walls. This will be the Levites' pastureland.
6Six of the towns you give them will be Safe Towns where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection. But you will also give the Levites forty-two other towns, 7so they will have a total of forty-eight towns with their surrounding pastures.
8Since the towns for the Levites must come from Israel's own tribal lands, the larger tribes will give more towns than the smaller ones.

The Safe Towns
(Deuteronomy 19.1-13; Joshua 20.1-9)

9The LORD then told Moses 10to tell the people of Israel:
After you have crossed the Jordan River and are settled in Canaan, 11choose Safe Towns, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection. 12If the victim's relatives think it was murder, they might try to take revenge. Anyone accused of murder can run to one of these Safe Towns for protection and not be killed before a trial is held.
13There are to be six of these Safe Towns, 14three on each side of the Jordan River. 15They will be places of protection for anyone who lives in Israel and accidentally kills someone.

Laws about Murder and Accidental Killing

The LORD said:
16-18Suppose you hit someone with a piece of iron or a large stone or a dangerous wooden tool. If that person dies, then you are a murderer and must be put to death 19by one of the victim's relatives. He will take revenge for his relative's death as soon as he finds you.
20-21Or suppose you get angry and kill someone by pushing or hitting or by throwing something. You are a murderer and must be put to death by one of the victim's relatives.
22-24But if you are not angry and accidentally kill someone in any of these ways, the townspeople must hold a trial and decide if you are guilty. 25If they decide that you are innocent, you will be protected from the victim's relative and sent to stay in one of the Safe Towns until the high priest dies. 26But if you ever leave the Safe Town 27and are killed by the victim's relative, he cannot be punished for killing you. 28You must stay inside the town until the high priest dies; only then can you go back home.
29The community of Israel must always obey these laws.
30Death is the penalty for murder. But no one accused of murder can be put to death unless there are at least two witnesses to the crime. 31You cannot give someone money to escape the death penalty; you must pay with your own life! 32And if you have been proven innocent of murder and are living in a Safe Town, you cannot pay to go back home; you must stay there until the high priest dies.
33-34I, the LORD, live among you people of Israel, so your land must be kept pure. But when a murder takes place, blood pollutes the land, and it becomes unclean. If that happens, the murderer must be put to death, so the land will be clean again. Keep murder out of Israel!

The Laws about Married Women and Land

Numbers 36 One day the family leaders from the Gilead clan of the Manasseh tribe went to Moses and the other family leaders of Israel 2and said, "Sir, the LORD has said that he will show what land each tribe will receive as their own. And the LORD has commanded you to give the daughters of our relative Zelophehad the land that he would have received. 3But if they marry men from other tribes of Israel, the land they receive will become part of that tribe's inheritance and will no longer belong to us. 4Even when land is returned to its original owner in the Year of Celebration, we will not get back Zelophehad's land--it will belong to the tribe into which his daughters married."
5So Moses told the people that the LORD had said:
These men from the Manasseh tribe are right. 6I will allow Zelophehad's daughters to marry anyone, as long as those men belong to one of the clans of the Manasseh tribe.
7Tribal land must not be given to another tribe--it will remain the property of the tribe that received it. 8-9In the future, any daughter who inherits land must marry someone from her own tribe. Israel's tribal land is never to be passed from one tribe to another.

10-11Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah the daughters of Zelophehad obeyed the LORD and married their uncles' sons 12and remained part of the Manasseh tribe. So their land stayed in their father's clan.
13These are the laws that the LORD gave to Moses and the Israelites while they were camped in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho.

Job's First Speech

Blot Out the Day of My Birth

Job 3 Finally, Job cursed the day of his birth
2by saying to God:
3Blot out the day of my birth
and the night when my parents created a son.
4Forget about that day, cover it with darkness,
5and send thick, gloomy shadows to fill it with dread.
6Erase that night from the calendar
and conceal it with darkness.
7Don't let children be created or joyful shouts be heard
ever again in that night.
8Let those with magic powers place a curse on that day.
9Darken its morning stars and remove all hope of light,
10because it let me be born into a world of trouble.

Why Didn't I Die at Birth?

11Why didn't I die at birth? 12Why was I accepted
and allowed to nurse at my mother's breast?
13Now I would be at peace in the silent world below
14with kings and their advisors whose palaces lie in ruins,
15and with rulers once rich with silver and gold.
16I wish I had been born dead and then buried,
never to see the light of day.
17In the world of the dead, the wicked and the weary rest
without a worry.
*18Everyone is there--
19where captives and slaves are free at last.

Why Does God Let Me Live?

20Why does God let me live
when life is miserable and so bitter?
21I keep longing for death
more than I would seek a valuable treasure.
22Nothing could make me happier than to be in the grave.
23Why do I go on living when God has me surrounded,
and I can't see the road?
24Moaning and groaning are my food and drink,
25and my worst fears have all come true.
26I have no peace or rest--
only troubles and worries.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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